Elvis is back

FIREFIGHTING aircrane Elvis is in position at Essendon airport and ready to be deployed to protect Victorian lives and property this summer.

Victorian Deputy Premier and Minister for Bushfire Response Peter Ryan and Commonwealth Attorney-General and Minister for Emergency Management Nicola Roxon have welcomed the arrival of Elvis to Victoria’s firefighting air fleet.

Elvis is now in position and a second aircrane, Gypsy Lady, will be based in Ballarat from later this month,” Mr Ryan said.

“Elvis and Gypsy Lady can carry up to 9000 litres of water or foam and reach a cruising speed of 200kmh.

“Two Sikorsky helicopters, which can each carry 3500 litres of water, have also been brought in especially for the summer period and will be based at Mansfield and Colac.

“These four machines are the powerhouse of a fleet which will assist with bushfire first attack, major fire suppression and support firefighters onthe ground this summer,” Mr Ryan said.

Ms Roxon said that with above average temperatures and below average rainfall, it would be a tough season for Victoria.

“With temperatures set to hit the high 30s tomorrow, Elvis is back and ready to help our brave firefighters keep Victorians safe,” Ms Roxon said.

“By working together with states and sharing specialised resources we are ensuring Australians are protected by the best aerial firefightingequipment possible,” Ms Roxon said.

“Victorians can be reassured that Elvis and Gypsy lady will be here to help should bushfires breakout this summer.

“The Aircrane and Sikorsky helicopters are co-funded with the Federal Government through the National Aerial Firefighting Centre.”

The makeup of the fleet this year is the same as it was last year.

Ms Roxon said smaller fire bombing helicopters and fixed wing aircraft had already been deployed throughout central Victoria to respond to theincreased risk of grassfires in that region.

“This is the first summer fire season where we’ll have helicopters based atHamilton, Healesville and Shepparton,” Mr Ryan said.

“A further 150 aircraft are ‘on call’ and can help out in Victoria if required.”